Russia faces ‘incredible poverty’ as sanctions hit home for Putin

Russian propagandist says if we don’t win the world will disappear

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Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff has warned Russia is heading towards being a new Cuba, Venezuela, or “giant Iran.” Speaking at an event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Rogoff urged Western governments to get behind a second wave of sanctions on the Kremlin in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Mr Rogoff told the audience: “If Russia escalates, what are we doing? We need to be ready. They need to know that is coming.”

He added sanctions are not enough on there own to defeat Putin but “you have to stay the course”.

In total, 39 countries have imposed sanctions on Russia as a result of the country’s actions in Ukraine.

These sanctions include a mechanism to limit the price of Russian oil and petroleum products, implemented by the G7 nations and the EU.

This mechanism prohibits services supporting the maritime transport of Russian oil or petroleum products unless they are purchased below a price cap

Mr Rogoff admitted that “getting regime change is hard” pointing to attempts to bring down the government of Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran, but noted “that is where Russia is headed”.

It comes as the US Treasury Department announced plans to impose additional sanctions on the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, that has been aiding Russia’s military in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced Friday that Treasury will designate Wagner as a significant transnational criminal organization in the coming days.

Russia: Putin facing ‘internal division’ in the military says expert

He said the designation will allow the administration to hit Wagner with tougher sanctions and squeeze its ability to do business around the world.

The White House also released images of Russia taking delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea that it said was intended to help bolster Wagner forces as they fight side-by-side with Russian troops in Ukraine.

The Biden administration first accused North Korea last month of providing infantry rockets and missiles to Russia. North Korea has denied assisting Russia.

“These actions recognize the transcontinental threat that Wagner poses, including through its ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity with these actions, and there’ll be more to come,” Kirby said.

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The US assesses that Wagner, owned by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, is spending about $100 million a month in the war. Prigozhin has also publicly taken credit for some of Russian’s recent advances in eastern Ukraine.

“We are seeing indications, including in intelligence, that tensions between Wagner and the Russian Defense Ministry are increasing,” Kirby added.

“Wagner is becoming a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries. Publicly, Prigozhin and his fighters have criticized Russian generals and defense officials for their performance in Ukraine.”

Wagner Group mercenaries have also been accused by Western countries and UN experts of numerous human rights abuses throughout Africa, including in the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali. Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced he had designated the Wagner Group as an “entity of particular concern” for its activities in the Central African Republic.

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